Friday, November 3, 2000

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey | 9.0

Overall, I'd give this game a thumbs up, but I have hard time calling it a true sequel to the original masterpiece, and have some mixed feelings about this game. First, it's a new game, with a new lead character, and a whole new style of play. If you liked the original you will probably enjoy this "sequel" as well, but things have changed. The main character is now Zoe Castillo, with an older, jaded April Ryan playing second fiddle. The original April Ryan is absent from this game, and , I have mixed feelings about Zoe taking over the lead role in this series

April Ryan , of the original game, was charming, witty, light hearted and fun. Zoe , a nice girl, is simply more serious and lacks a lot of the levity provided by the original April Ryan. I will, however, say that Zoe's( as well as most actors in this game) voice acting is excellent and she's capable of handling some deeper, more mature subjects convincingly. However, I very much miss the whackiness, wit and youthful optism of April. April was arguably one of the best adventure game characters , to date. She was a milestone that set the standard for a number of other games. Her character has changed dramatically in the latest installment, and the game suffers from that. Zoe, while enjoyable, just doesn't stand out as much.

Kian, the third player has virtually no real involvement in the game, other than a handful of conversations, and simple combat sequences there's nothing about him that couldn't have been made into a cinema. Perhaps he may have a role in a following sequel, but not in this game. The story, like the lead character has also made a distinct change.

The story line is faster moving, more intense, and more sci-fi oriented than the original. It's a good , engrossing, story line, but it lacks the wild creativity and fantasy of the original. It has a distinctly diffferent feel or "flavor". The overall magic, awe, wonder,whacky humor and originality of the first installlment are just missing. Again, not a bad storyline, but not what made the original game a classic. The gratutious profanity and innuedoes have been toned down quite a bit, but it's still an adult, or "mature audience game"

This game is *NOT* for young children. There are a curse words, sexual situations and innuendos, some mature subject matter, and violence, as well as references to drugs and alcohol. Nothing over-the-top, but it's not some G rated title.

The controls in this game largely detract from the overall experience. Playing Dreamfall is more like playing a 1st person shooter, than a point and click adventure game. Navigating cramped areas can be a nuisance. It took me several hours of play before the controls became second nature, so to speak. I enjoyed the simple beauty of point-click the original offered, much more. Secondly, maybe it's my imagination, but this game doesn't seem to have quite the level of diversity in scenary the original did. The frequent load sequences also tended to detract fromt the overall experience.

Thinking and problem solving have definitely taken a back seat to eye-candy cinemas, simplistic combat, and puzzles generally tend to be "dumbed down" to accommodate individuals who don't enjoy games with any thinking involved. I wouldn't go so far as to call this game an interactive movie. It has puzzles. They are there. They're just much simpler, and scarcer than puzzles typical of earlier adventure games. Frequently another character in the game will tell you where to go and what to do next, making the game a bit too easy. This gamealso has numerous fight, flight and flee sequences. Arcade sequences are hardly new to adventure gaming, but in Dreamfall they're frequent and water down the game's status as an adventure, puzzle based game. The saving grace is that the story progresses quickly, and will keep most people interested in just what the heck is gonna happen next. Secondly, very few people will spend hours pixel hunting for a simple clue, or silly oversight. Personally, I'd rather see the adventure game market watered down, and and still alive, rather than die off completely. If that means putting up with silly combat scenes or excessive cinemas, that's fine with me.

This game has no real ending, just a place where the game stops, and the remaining chapters were written simply to whet your appetite for a sequel. I was upset when I saw the ending of this game. It was sad, disturbing and abrupt. It just left so many unanswered questions, with many sad possibilities waiting in future installments. The ending was much like "cliff hanger" season finale to a television series. It was meant to to tease the player, not provide resolution. That fact shouldn't be a problem if there's a sequel, but due to lack of interest in adventure games, there may not be another installment of this game.

graphics 8
gameplay 9.5
sound 9
overall 9.0

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